I spent a far-too-short weekend in London with three friends from Dublin, and most of our time was spent walking around the city – something I would not recommend doing!
While we got to see a lot of London and save money, we walked about 18 miles the first day and 15 miles the second, causing us to miss some of the attractions on our lists, so it wasn’t a very effective means to go about the city. I’d recommend taking the Underground to get around: it’ll save you heaps of time and is definitely worth the money!
I would also recommend taking a tour of the city to help you learn your way around while learning about the city’s past. London has an incredibly interesting history, and while this may seem like a very touristy thing to do, it’ll help you learn the city much faster than you would on your own.
My friends and I, being the broke college students we are, opted for free tours through Free Walking Tours of American and European Cities. The tours are absolutely free, unless you decide you want to tip the tour guide, which you probably will, because they are all AMAZING.
These tours were absolutely wonderful and helped us get a vibe for the city while learning its streets and history (which there is SO much of). It was just enough to have some direction, without worrying about price or committing yourself to an entire day of listening and walking. We did the City of London tour, the Jack the Ripper tour, and the London Ghost Tour/Dark Side of the Old City tour. I would highly recommend any of these, especially if you’re a history buff.
We hit the usual touristy spots – Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, etc, etc, etc, but one of the best and most unique parts of London is its skyline, which mixes ancient with modern incredibly well!
While these are all sights I would highly recommend seeing, London is not a city you can integrate yourself into in a weekend – it’s one you need to live and breathe. I’ll be spending my next semester there, from January until May at the least, so I’m sure I’ll have much more updates for how to be a local in London within the coming months.
Regardless of how much time you have in London, it’s well worth a stop, even if only for a couple days.